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2018 KU seniors honor high school teachers with Wolf Family Teaching Awards

Thursday, May 03, 2018

LAWRENCE — Three outstanding high school teachers will be recognized with the 2018 Wolfe Family Teaching Award during the University of Kansas Commencement weekend. Several years after having set foot in the teachers’ classrooms, students have not forgotten the influence of these educators.  

“With all the attention in the national media about teachers recently, one thing remains clear – great teachers impact students’ lives,” said Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education. “This award acknowledges three incredible teachers who have helped students in ways that typical evaluations could never capture. We are honored to recognize them with the Wolfe Teaching Award.”

Nominations are submitted by KU seniors. Students from any major can nominate their former teachers, and the winners can be high school teachers from anywhere in the world. The 2018 award recipients:

  • Susan Fisher, Blue Valley High School, Overland Park
  • Philip Hamilton, De Soto High School, De Soto
  • Shelley Lauber, Truman High School, Independence, Missouri

Fisher was nominated by Hunter Murray, a senior in fine arts (metalsmithing and jewelry) at KU. Murray worked alongside Fisher as a peer student who interacted with students with intellectual disabilities and autism. He writes in her nomination:

“I enjoyed and benefited from Susan Fisher’s lessons…But today…I see a much bigger impact from her class than I ever thought I would…Susan Fisher provided me with lessons about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. She showed me how going out of our way to help others in need ultimately cultivates our life even more.”

Hamilton was nominated by Rebekah Burgweger, a senior double-majoring in history and political science with minors in history and Middle East studies at KU. Burgweger completed an AP language and composition (APLAC) class with Hamilton in high school, and in her nomination, she writes:

“Within the first few months, Hamilton completely transformed everyone’s writing abilities…Throughout the school year, Hamilton planned worknights and individual meetings with students to ensure their success…It is without a doubt that my success in college corresponds to the hours I spent in APLAC learning from Hamilton.”

Lauber was nominated by Brooke Summers, a senior studying business analytics at KU. In her nomination, Summers describes her personal struggle with English classes in high school and how Lauber supported her. She writes:

“[Lauber] knew that in English, I needed more encouragement than I did in my other classes. She would push me, but only to lengths she knew were attainable for me so that I wouldn’t get too overwhelmed. This encouraged me to reach goals I never thought I could…I am so thankful for Ms. Lauber pushing me to do better and to develop my reading and writing skills.”

Recipients each receive a cash award of $3,000, and their respective high schools each receive $1,000. The award winners were selected from a large pool of outstanding nominees by a committee of faculty, administrators and students from KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Education.

The recipients will be honored during Commencement weekend at the KU School of Education convocation ceremony and a dinner held in their honor.

The Wolfe Family Teaching Award was created in 2006 with a $250,000 gift from R. Dean Wolfe, business administration, ’66, and juris doctor, ’69; and Cheryl L. Wolfe, Spanish education, ’69, Clayton, Missouri, through the Wolfe Family Foundation. The award fund is managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

The KU School of Education is a nationally ranked school preparing educators and health, sport and exercise professionals as leaders. 


10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
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#1 public program in nation for special education
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Assists public schools and other partners in all 105 Kansas counties
$938,377 in scholarship funds awarded to 420+ students
Research expenditures of $36,804,773 for 2011-12
Research from KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, assists educators, children, and families across the United States
The award-winning special education faculty published 140 refereed articles, 11 books, and 60 chapters in 2015-16
Students with intellectual disabilities are participating in KU undergraduate programs through a grant-funded KU special education program
Researchers on a $3.5 million grant are collecting data on an innovative reading program designed to teach reading to students with the most significant disabilities in seven Kansas school districts
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
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